Paul Krugman Gets It (shocking, I Know)
July 24, 2009

One of the more difficult issues to explain, even for those of us who live and breathe health policy, is why expanding coverage and cost control go hand-in-hand. Among other things, past efforts at cutting health care spending haven't always worked as well. Fortunately for all of us, Paul Krugman writes a biweekly column for the New York Times. He gets it. And today he does a great job of explaining it:  Why does meaningful action on medical costs go along with compassion? One answer is that compassion means not closing your eyes to the human consequences of rising costs.

The Politics Of Health Care Reform
July 24, 2009

On the front page of today's Washington Post, I read that health care reform is dying: Health Reform Deadline In DoubtProcess Could Be Slow And More Contentious Senate Majority Leader Harry M.

What Mckinsey Could Teach Obama
July 23, 2009

Members of Congress who hold the balance of power, including Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus and the Blue Dogs in the House, have concluded that the health care proposals emerging from committee up to now would do too little to control costs. The next phase of deliberation and bargaining will revolve around strategies for reining in costs without reducing the quality of treatment or the pace of innovation in the health care sector. Last December, McKinsey & Company published a comprehensive comparison of U.S. health care spending with that of other OECD countries.

Obama Has A Grown-up Talk With America (gulp)
July 22, 2009

Late in tonight's press conference, President Obama got a question that just begged for an easy, evasive answer.

When Greener Means Healthier
July 21, 2009

Since controlling health care costs is the topic du jour in Washington right now, it's worth pointing out two environmental policies that could have some ancillary health benefits. First, it's true that gasoline taxes tend to be the ultimate political no-fly zone. But new research suggests that higher gas prices wouldn't just cut back on our carbon emissions—they might also cut back on our waistlines (and, accordingly, our medical bills).

The Imac Proposal: Obama's Answer On Cost Control
July 17, 2009

As discussed below, the administration is pushing its idea to create an "Independent Medicare Advisory Commission" that would set payment policies within Medicare, subject to approval by the President and Congress. The idea is similar to a proposal West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, has been circulating. Today, the administation formally submitted its proposal as a bill. Below is a letter from Budget Director Peter Orszag, explaining the proposal; it went to the leadership and relevant committee chairs in both houses.

Elmendorf: More Cost Control; Orszag: We're Already On It.
July 17, 2009

Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congresional Budget Office, sent tremors through Washington when he gave congressional testimony on Thursday. Appearing first before the Senate Finance Committee and then the House Ways and Means Committee, Elmendorf declared that his office had not yet seen evidence that health reform legislation would substantially reduce the cost of medical care over the long run.

Challenging The Obama Team’s Economic Narrative
July 16, 2009

CBO director Doug Elmendorf’s written testimony before the Senate budget committee today should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding our long-term fiscal plight. Among its many instructive features, it challenges--tacitly but fundamentally--the Obama administration’s dominant fiscal narrative. The president and his economic team have tirelessly argued that reforming health care is the key to regaining fiscal stability. In the very long run, no doubt, this is true. But over the next decade (or even the next generation), it is not true.

Breaking: Ama Endorses House Bill.
July 16, 2009

Via Health Care for America Now: The American Medical Association just sent a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, endorsing the health reform proposal put forward by three House committees. This is unexpected. Or, at least, I wasn't expecting it. Recent signals from the AMA suggested they were reluctant to embrace reform, in no small part because they believed a public insurance option would underpay them. But the AMA letter contains no caveats. It is a straightforward endorsement. And that makes it a pretty big deal.

Sorting Out The Great Pet V. Human Health Care Debate
July 14, 2009

This chart from Andrew Biggs at The American showing how spending on human and animal medical care has grown at nearly the same clip has gotten a lot of attention around the web:   The point Biggs wants to bring home is that we shouldn't be looking at the growth rate in spending but the overall level: Two things are interesting here: first, the rate of growth of spending from 1984 to 2006 wasn’t all that different—and in both cases, spending grew faster than the rate of economic growth.